I surely wasn’t the only one that predicted that West Ham United would get something from their encounter with champions Manchester City, although I din’t see them getting all three points.
Part of it was down to City, who have struggled to dominate in the league as they have done in the past. Plus they look vulnerable after midweek away trips in the Champions League. They lost a two goal lead last Tuesday in their 2-2 draw with CSKA and I bet the trip back from Moscow wasn’t a pleasant one for Vincent Kompany and co!
But today’s result wasn’t all about City’s failings. West Ham have preformed well this season and now surprisingly occupy a spot in the ‘Top Four’. As a unit they worked together and everyone did the jobs they were allocated. They worked hard, covered every blade of grass and threw themselves in front of every ball.
Don’t get me wrong, at times West Ham were on the ropes but they kept their mental strength and managed to ride their luck a little too. But as the saying goes ‘Its better to be lucky than good‘ sometimes. West Ham’s hard work and endeavour meant that they deserved the luck that went their way this afternoon.
Even during the heavy spells from Man City, West Ham United were still able to cause problems with quick counter attacks.
So how have West Ham turned things around after a disappointing season last term?
Well manager Sam Allardyce has bought well in the summer and has the players playing the ‘Big Sam’ way. Now when I say that I don’t mean any disrespect and I’m not saying they are long ball merchants. See Allardyce is like Tony Pulis, he sees the players he has at his disposal and gets the most out of them. His teams are efficient, direct and in your face.
They also have skill. For me, Morgan Amalfitano has a talismanic influence about him similar to that of Paolo Di Canio and Eric Cantona. His creative performances and goals against Liverpool and Man City have really lifted the crowd. Also having a homegrown talent in Mark Noble gives the fans an extra boost.
The defence that started against City: Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins and Winston Reid were superb in battle. The up and coming full-backs worked their lines well and held a defensive discipline that often goes out of the window in exciting ties such as these. Reid and Collins were terrific, lunging into last minute tackles and blocks. The back four fashioned a defensive wall superbly as a group and worked their socks off. When the ball went beyond them then keeper Adrian was usually on hand with a good save!
Stewart Downing has started well this season with a goal and three assists to his name. His performances for the ‘Hammers’ have led to Allardyce claiming “I don’t think there is anybody playing in midfield that is better than Stewart Downing“. Cheikhou Kouyate looks to be a talented holding midfielder who should only improve when he gets more game time in England.
Up top, West Ham have found a good partnership in new signings Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia. Both work hard, defending from the front. Sakho will find himself in at right back and even in his own penalty area just to help out his teammates. Between them they have eight Premier League goals this campaign, with Senegalese man Sakho grabbing an impressive six goals in his last six games! Those are striking stats that West Ham’s fans have been crying out for. Even back up hitmen Carlton Cole and Mauro Zarate have helped the Hammers cause with a few goals.
Things may get even better, if and when Andy Carroll comes back into the fold. He isn’t the main star anymore and doesn’t have that pressure around his neck either. Carroll on his day can offer West Ham valuable strength, goals and a quality target-man, but he just needs to play more!
The star player against Man City was Alex Song. The man on loan from Barcelona was inspirational in the heart of midfield, pulling the strings and helped keep Yaya Toure quiet. His passing is extremely impressive as his awareness to cut out opposition passes. To be honest, when Song’s in this type of form its hard to see why Arsenal didn’t try and re-sign him. But Sam Allardyce and his ‘Irons’ have benefited. They just have to hope the Cameroonian can keep his cool and doesn’t switch off during games as he’s done in the past.
Obviously West Ham’s victories over Liverpool and Manchester City have been fantastic for morale and get the fans jumping. But by consistently getting positive results over the likes of QPR, Burnley, Hull and Crystal Palace the Hammers have propelled up the table. That consistency needs to continue to keep them there. But Big Sam has West Ham United believing again and a top half finish could be on the cards if they can keep the momentum going!